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How Ohio State helps employees own a home near campus

Ohio State Faculty and staff have the opportunity to buy homes in the University District or Near East Side with zero-interest forgivable loans through the university’s Homeownership Incentive Program. Glen Echo Park, which sits on the northern edge of Summit Ave, is one of the barriers of the University District. Teresa Cardenas | Senior Lantern Reporter

At the end of every long day of classes, each student makes his or her way to a residence hall, treks to an off-campus apartment or commutes to a place away from Ohio State. Students have their own dwellings, but where do Ohio State staff members call home?

Some areas near campus can become home for faculty and staff members with the help of a university program.

The Homeownership Incentive Program was created in 1998 to provide zero-interest forgivable loans of up to $3,000 when full-time employees buy homes in the University District. In 2017, the university expanded the program to include the Near East Side — offering a fixed loan for up to $8,000 for that area — and increased the loan to 6 percent of the appraised value of the home, or up to $15,000.

The program is assisted through two nonprofit development extensions — Campus Partners covers the University District and Weinland Park and the Partners Achieving Community Transformation [PACT] provides financial support in the Near East Side. It helps employees plant roots in Columbus and in the communities Ohio State directly affects, said Autumn Glover, a government relations consultant for the university.

The university already was interested in revitalizing the communities near campus, specifically in the University District, before the beginning of the program, said Erin Prosser, director of community development for Campus Partners.

The population of students living near campus had dropped from 15,000 to 9,000 between the 1980s and 1990s because students believed it was too dangerous and in poor condition, Prosser said. Former University President Gordon Gee wanted to fix that.

“When Dr. Gee came and saw the condition of the neighborhoods, he did not feel like that it was right for the neighborhood at the doorstep of this prestigious university and institution to look like that,” Prosser said.

The program extended its goals to further aid employees. It has served 116 homeowners through Campus Partners since 1998. In the past five months, six employees have begun to sign or have already signed for a home through PACT.

But which group of employees benefit the most from the program? Staff homeowners outnumber faculty homeowners nearly 3 to 1, Prosser said of the University District. The majority of properties sold to Ohio State employees tend to be single-family style, Prosser said. Campus Partners has not gathered data on the marital or familial status of each homeowner.

Update, 2/5 at 11:00 a.m.: This article has been updated to clarify the Near East Side loan amount.

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